Here to Inspire: A Chat with Ritika Saraswat

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Ritika is passionate about inspiring people and touching lives wherever she goes. I had a chat with her where she shared how she moved from India to study medicine in Canada and went from selling pizza to starting an organization and working at Deloitte

Getting Started

She grew up in a humble family in India and has always wanted to be a medical doctor. Her desire to study medicine stemmed from her background. Where she comes from, it is believed that practicing medicine is the best way to grow and also help people. For this reason, she moved to Vancouver in 2017 to study Kinesiology, a pre-degree that you obtain to pursue medicine abroad.  


While pursuing her degree, she kept herself open to seeking other opportunities. Because she was open to opportunities, she volunteered for a non-profit effort, and the case that she worked on helped about 180 residents in a week. This event changed her perspective. She learnt that impact is not defined by a single profession. 

Even though she was still pursuing her pre-degree to study medicine, Ritika started moving in the direction of understanding and studying business. After that, she started doing business internships in healthcare companies and then transitioned into higher education institutions and pursued strategic roles there. 

Finding Her Path

Ritika has always been passionate about diversity. Her passion to explore different cultures spurred her to travel to different countries, far and near. She traveled to those places even while she was still based in India. She was able to travel to different countries by applying to attend summer school abroad and working on short-term projects. 

She eventually moved to Canada because she wanted to leave her comfort zone and become independent. To her, migrating was the best way to find her path while starting out as a young adult. To Ritika, being far away from home means you have to figure it out and navigate by yourself.

She used to apply to a lot of travel abroad programs, and she was fortunate enough to get them. This enabled her to travel to many countries for different academic reasons. Sri Lanka was the first foreign country she traveled to. She has also visited Ethiopia and Kenya. 

She had worked as a freelance business analyst for two years before she figured that it was time to start her own organization. She then started her own non-profit organization called Re-defined. She and her team are working to make it a social enterprise this year. 

Ritika recently joined Deloitte as a business analyst because she reasoned that, to be able to grow her own organization, she needed to learn from a successful one. So far, her stay at Deloitte has been valuable because she works with a great team. She’s currently working at the Halifax office, and the work culture there is awesome. Her teammates are driven and also uplifting.

Managing Diversity

She did not experience an intense cultural shock because she had the mindset that experiencing different cultures was an opportunity to learn. 

Some of the countries she visited were also diverse; she met people who looked like her and found places with Indian cuisine, especially in Canada. Ethiopia had the biggest learning curve for her because the population of Indians there is lower than in Canada, and she could barely find Indian grocery stores. 

However, she was able to adapt to the diverse environment. The only other challenge was cultural references, which were difficult to understand at first but, with time, she began to understand better. 

To her, the key to navigating these challenges is keeping an open mind and being open to learning. She visits different indigenous grocery stores to understand the cultures of people, which in turn helps her understand people better. This has been of immense help to her career because she meets a lot of people from different parts of the world. She now understands people better and knows how to make everyone feel included.

How Migration Changed Her Life

Migrating to Canada has changed her life in tough and good ways. Going to Canada was tough at first because she had been away from her family for three years. She experienced financial pressure because Vancouver, Canada, where she went to school, is one of the most expensive cities in the world. She used to work at a pizza place while juggling being a founder and studying. She also experienced the internal pressure of doing well in a diverse setting and getting good grades while also working to earn money. 

She cherishes these tough experiences because she learnt valuable lessons and they built her to become more independent. Living abroad allowed her to see the world with her own eyes, without the supervision of her parents. So she knew that when she falls, she shouldn’t stay down but get back up and try again.

Migrating has made her financially independent. The opportunities she got were amazing. For instance, in her home country, it is not common for students to do part-time jobs, but it is commonplace in Canada. This environment enabled her to gain valuable experience and earn money. 

She mentioned that the feeling of getting paid was amazing and made her feel good about herself. She realized that it is also beneficial because those living in Canada have the potential to earn more than those in India, even when they are doing the same job.

Advice for Those Who Wish to Migrate

Ritika has some advice for people who wish to migrate. 

  • Be Culturally Sensitive: It is important to be culturally sensitive. You should be willing to respect other people’s cultural views. When you travel abroad, you will encounter different cultures. The food they eat, their views on life, and their interactions with others are all influenced by their culture. Understanding that one culture or way of life is not superior to another is a good place to start. Being culturally sensitive will keep you from offending people, help you learn better, and help you settle in easier.
  • Be Realistic: Sometimes you can get very excited about going abroad and you may not consider the harsh realities. Be excited but don’t let it cloud your sense of reasoning. It is important to be realistic. Do not go abroad with the mindset of getting a permanent residence. Go abroad with the sense that it is offering you opportunities you may not get back home. Have a goal and know the benefits that you can get and know what is the most important for you at that point. 
  • Be Financially Prudent: Living abroad can be expensive. You may have to work and study as well in the initial years. Because people do not realize how expensive it is to live abroad, they spend so much in the initial years and have to struggle to pay their bills. 
  • Be Ready to Grab Opportunities: Many people assume living abroad is a bed of roses when compared to their home countries. Yes, migration can offer better opportunities but you don’t have to be laid back about it. Roll up your sleeves and be ready to grab the opportunities you can find.
  • Plan Ahead: It is a good idea to have a plan for how you want things to happen. Because the worst thing you want to happen is to travel abroad and regret it. Have a concrete plan to guide your way. Things may not always go as planned but when you have a plan, you have a sense of direction and a high chance of succeeding.
  • Make Meaningful Connections: Networking and connecting with people, especially those who have migrated abroad before you is key. It is the best way to learn from their experience. This will enable you to make informed decisions and also keep you grounded. That way, it will be easier for you to settle in. Talk to people to learn what the most affordable and efficient way to migrate is. You can get started by making connections on Setlinn.

Ritika currently has a huge following on LinkedIn, where she continuously inspires people through her story. She hopes anyone who reads her story will be inspired to pursue their dream. 

She concluded our chat by pointing out that achieving your goals is mostly about planning. It does not matter what your financial background or status is; if you plan well, you can achieve anything that you want. She recently won the Young Achievers Award from the Indian Achievers Forum  (IAF) and it was inspiring that from working at a pizza place she has been able to pursue her dream and is still achieving her goals.

To know more about her and learn from her, join her on other platforms as well:

@ritikasaraswat | Linktree

Would you like to learn from others who have migrated? Read Richard’s story.

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